Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Black and White (Today Launches a new Title for the Challenge)

18 May 2015


Both photographs taken at Yosemite National Park with my iPhone 4s, April 2014.

1. Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally.

1. Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally.

2. Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park, April 2014; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

2. Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park, April 2014; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

Let me know which you prefer and why. I suggest that you click on each image to enlarge.


Instantly, I recall that moment of true love. It is one of the most emotional experiences from my mental archive where I meander through memories about nature in places wild or tame, private or public. To enter Yosemite National Park is to put one’s mind in total spiritual and visual awareness. My senses were tantalized and thrilled, resulting in tears that surfaced with tender and paramount forces. I felt my kinship to John Muir.

On that April 2014 morning to my right was a sign that announced John Muir’s meeting with President Theodore Roosevelt. It reminded me about Muir’s influence to secure Yosemite as a national treasure. Then as my eyes slowly absorbed the surroundings, I spied the first waterfall (Bridalveil Falls ). It was a true privilege. While the snow was at record lows last year (and 2015 too), I was fortunate to be visiting in spring, when the falls were rushing rather beautifully. My heart was in expansive mode, and then to my left we spied Yosemite Falls.

President Roosevelt and John Muir Meet 1903

President Roosevelt and John Muir Meet in 1903

Without question one can never duplicate that first impression, that moment of heighten sensibilities. My best defense against the loss of that initial reaction is the use of my own inner lens to evoke that push and pull of what nature provides. But I also use photography as a way to record time and place.

My equipment to shore and store visual memories are my iPhone and DSLR Nikon. On that trip I used my iPhone 4s (I now have a 6.) more than I did my traditional camera. I created a personal challenge to predominantly use the phone as my lens, because I wanted to test it against grandiose Northern California vistas.

The iPhone 4s more than passed the challenge. I became even more enamored with its technology—a technology along with other Smartphones and digital devices that has riveted the art world as well as personal lives.

Since the dawn of photography in the nineteenth century, this artistic medium has been continuously redefined by a technological metamorphosis. By that spring holiday in California, I had sponsored a photography challenge for over a year.

When my photography challenge was launched, the title, iPhoneography Monday: The Challenge-Using the iPhone as Your Lens, seemed to fit the cultural horizon. Responses to whirlwind digital mobile inventions have affected all aspects of our daily lives. As innovations continued, my reaction was to change the title two more times (Phoneography Challenge: the Phone as Your Lens  and Phoneography and Non-SLR Digital Devices Photo Challenge).

Over the last few months I felt a tug to assess the title for its applicability to today’s evergreen standards. Was the challenge adapting to photographers’ and photography’s movement toward a more universal acceptance of these mobile devices as the norm?

Now the use of Smartphones, iPads and iPods are no longer considered the new new. They are thought of as everyday objects that happen to still our world (among other significant duties). They do not compete with traditional cameras anymore, they are considered a lens of choice by many novice and seasoned photographers.

Over the last few weeks I have enlisted the advice and opinion of the challenge’s participants and readers who visit my blog. After much deliberation and keeping in mind the more persistent advice (make it short), I settled on this title: Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge. I wanted to use the Sally D, because it has history and meaning in my life, and it gives the title a little zippity do dah. I also feel strongly about “photography” being in the title.

The challenge is meant to encourage creativity and experimentation. Over the last two years I have offered it to attract a community of individuals who are interested in the dynamic world of photography. People challenged by the challenge. But it’s also meant to give a platform for us to learn from each other.

Participants have a range of experience and knowledge. I hope that you will celebrate with me this next step forward in the challenge’s evolution. I also want to fete the dynamic ingenuity of human creativity and the future of photography.

The human story is a narrative about change. The challenge is a vehicle to respond to our inner and outer worlds that is powered by what we see and how we interpret what we see in that world where little stays status quo, little remains the same.

Photography gives us a way to record history as it occurs. We are witnesses. We also are creators of a visual archive between the intersection of nature and human nature and the human condition’s responses.

Each of us has a personal vision that we either keep private or release it into the universe for perusal. I’ve let part of mine merrily run through the Internet via my blog, Lens and Pens by Sally. I hope that you’ll join our journey, and the visual universe of those that participate and share the world as they see it.

P.S.: I did not make a badge for the new title. I’m not really sure it’s significance. I suppose that it alerts others on their blogs about the challenge’s existence. But I’m not sure how effective they are. If you’d like to comment about this subject, please free. I welcome all thoughts pro or con. In all honesty I’m leaning toward completely nixing the badge. Thanks.

Tip of the Week:

One of my nightly rituals is to browse Flipboard’s online magazine to view current mobile photographers. Last week I came across an interview (28 April 2015) with Austin Mann who has an artistic philosophy of photography that mirrors my own. Mann is known as one of the top photographers in the “mobile photography revolution.” In the article he discusses the reasons that his Smartphone has become the lens of choice. He says, “As a teacher I’ve always taught students not to focus on their gear. I’ve told them to focus on their vision. To focus on their voice.” He also believes that the “best tool is the tool that doesn’t inhibit your work flow, that doesn’t keep you from doing what you want to do, that allows you to capture what you see… and the tool that does the best for me is the iPhone. It conforms to me versus me conforming to it.” To view his work, click here.

Panorama, Iceland, 2014, Austin Mann

Panorama, Iceland, 2014, Austin Mann

View other entries from this week’s challenge:


As always I welcome comments about this post or any part of my blog.

If you’d like to join the Photo Challenge, please click here for details. If you have any questions, please contact me. Below is a reminder of the monthly schedule with themes for upcoming Photo Challenges:

1st Monday: Nature.

2nd Monday: Macro.

3rd Monday: Black and White.

4th Monday Challenger’s Choice (Pick One: Abstraction, Animals, Architecture, Food Photography, Night Photography, Objects, Portraiture, Still Life, Street Photography, and Travel).

5th Monday: Editing and Processing with Various Apps Using Themes from the Fourth Week.


This entry was posted in Black-and-White Photography, Mobile Photography, Nature Photography, Photography, Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

74 Responses to Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Black and White (Today Launches a new Title for the Challenge)

  1. Tina Schell says:

    Terrific idea Sally – and love your comments about Yosemite and Muir – two favorites 🙂

  2. “To enter Yosemite National Park is to put one’s mind in total spiritual and visual awareness. My senses were tantalized and thrilled, resulting in tears that surfaced with tender and paramount forces.” I felt for a moment that I was there with you, standing in complete awe and amazement for such a breathtaking beauty. A nature’s priceless gem. I hope one day, I get to see this in person. Happy Memorial Day. God bless.

  3. friendlytm says:

    Hi: Thank you for your visit and follow. I have been taking a break from blogging for a while and just came back. I missed your Freshly Pressed post. Would you kindly send the link? Congrats!


  4. Dina says:

    My favourite is the first image, a treat for sore eyes! And excellent quality, Sally, well done with an iphone. I have such good memories of Yosemite. I fell in love with the site at first sight. But then again, who wouldn’t?
    Have a wonderful weekend,
    Dina & co

  5. Love the first one. It’s so iconic.

  6. elisa ruland says:

    Sally, you’re beautiful images of Yosemite make me feel so wishful that I’ve never visited this natural wonder. I could never pick between the two, I love them both. Also, congratulations on the launch of your new title. It’s perfect.

  7. Su Leslie says:

    Love the new name for the challenge; and I think both your images are great. Yosemite is on my list of “places to visit some day”. Here’s my offering for the week:

  8. It looks like your new title is off to a successful launch, Sally! Your love for Yosemite shows through these two beautiful photos and I look forward to seeing more from your trip in the future. My favorite today is #1. 🙂

  9. Like the new name, like your ode to Yosemite, like your Flipboard tip!

  10. Yosemite Valley is quite a special place. I visited first time in 1986 – and as you write it’s hard to duplicate the first impression. My favourite of the two photos is the one of Yosemite Falls. And congratulations with the new title. I think this is a great choice.

  11. Hello Sally, how wonderful to see the new title for the challenge. I loved the choice.
    The narrative about the park was very interesting and instructive. The photos perfectly show the grandiosity of the park but my preference goes to the first one. The composition is sublime. Each element in proportion with its dimension in nature’s scale.The mountain, the waterfall, the trees, and then the small image of people along the way…perhaps to remind us that we depend on it and are caretakers of nature.
    I’d better stop here, or this comment becomes a blog post! Your words and images are very inspiring, Sally!
    And to finalize, I raise a virtual toast to the new name, and wish even more success to this fantastic photography challenge.

  12. Gallivanta says:

    I do like the new title for the challenge.

  13. That first image is so dramatic. There is a great sense of height with it. I love the new name too.

  14. Amy says:

    Congrats to the new title, Sally! I like the first one especailly. Here is my entry: Thank you, Sally! I can’t believe I’m making post while traveling. 🙂 iPhone is making it possible to take photos and making post anytime, anywhere. 🙂

  15. The new title is cool and reflective of your hard work in preparing these posts. The first photo is one that, if I was to capture it myself, I would probably have kept in colour, yet it works so well in black and white, as the light and dark seem perfectly balanced throughout the photo. I will miss the challenge badge, even though I did not always use it in my posting/sidebar, and wonder if it would be more attractive if we could contribute somehow, ( say by voting, or making one of our own???) Just a thought, however, yet I agree, its relevance is questionable.I am going to join you and Janet in toasting to the success of the newly titled challenge! Skål!!! (so they say when drinking in Norway!)

  16. ChristineR says:

    Reblogged this on Christine R and commented:
    lensandpensbysally has renamed her photo challenge from ‘Phoneography and Non-SLR Digital Devices Photo Challenge’ to the snappy ‘Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge’. I keep meaning to participate, but I think you are all beginning to twig by now that I do not always do what I think I’m going to do. 🙂

  17. Definitely prefer the first photo. Light is better and so is the sky. 🙂

  18. Indira says:

    You pen down your thoughts as beautifully as your pictures. Both pictures are beautiful. Like new title.

  19. I think the new title is perfect; short and sweet, yet punchy.

    The first photo is my favourite, because I love mountains. There’s such a grandeur to them, as seen in how you captured that one, and the falls, too. Mountains compel you to look upwards, and also remind me of how small I am in comparison.

    Thanks for the tips. I recently joined Flipboard, and will check out mobile photography there. Mann’s quote resonates with me, especially since I don’t have fancy equipment. 🙂

  20. Maria F. says:

    I like the “mobile” word; it is very concise and straightforward. I like both images too.

  21. Tish Farrell says:

    I prefer the first shot, Sally. I like the sense of scale with the figure in the almost foreground, and the sense of height looking up. The rock face beside the falls seems to glow too. All round grandeur.

  22. I so love the photo of the falls, Sally. Such a beautiful and majestic park. And I like the new title. As for the badge, I leave that entirely to your discretion. If you like it used, I will use it. If not, I will just use your blog title to pingback to your site. Have a wonderful week!

  23. Angeline M says:

    Happy Monday, Sally. I join Janet in raising a glass of virtual bubbly to toast the new title. I love it, and Sally D does indeed add a little zippity do da to it! I like the first photo of yours the best with those incredible falls in it; the people give it a great perspective as to scale. I too enjoy reading through Flipboard and finding all kinds of interesting things there, and I certainly concur with Austin Mann’s philosophy.

    • Angeline, I’m delighted that you like the new title. Now we can move forward in the ever-changing world of mobile photography. Flipboard has become a good night lullaby. Thanks so much.

  24. Sue says:

    Love your phrase ‘a little zip pity do dah” !! And for me, your first image is stunning…all the range of tones, the contrast, the detail. I have to confess to being stunned at the quality you can get from a phone….. Personally, I don’t use a mobile device for photography as I have a Neanderthal phone, but I have moved from a socking great Nikon D300 to a little mirrorless Olympus which allows me to carry a camera more frequently. I’m all for not getting hooked up on gear….

    • Sue, it is amazing how today’s technology frees us to do exactly what we intend: to capture our vision of our own universe without tons of gear. The lighter the equipment the easier it is to focus. Thanks so much.

  25. Allan G. Smorra says:

    Sally, I love the new title—it is short and sweet. As far as the badge: it helps if you want to display it as a widget on your own/other people’s blogs, otherwise I have a neutral opinion on it.

    I like your first photo. A classic view with a twist—people on the boardwalk. Ω

  26. Cathy Ulrich says:

    I’d love to go to Yosemite sometime, Sally. Both photos are wonderful, but I agree with Janet, I love the first one!

    • Cathy, it remains the most spiritually-rejuvenating experience. Zion National Park had always been the scene of that inner soaring. Yosemite ranks as the quintessential place to feel alive with nature. While I can walk in my neighborhood and feel exhilaration in the White Clay Creek Preserve, the grandeur of Yosemite leaves me breathless and awe-inspired in ways that are inexpressible. I do hope that you plan a trip. You will never ever forget your reaction to its majesty. Thanks for your comment and visit.

  27. A happy Monday morning to you, Sally. I’m breaking a metaphoric bottle of champagne over the prow of Sally D’s ship as you launch the new title. Whatever the title, the quality of your photos and thoughts, as well as those of the participants, are what draw people back week after week.

    I prefer the first photo this week. I think it showcases the majestic beauty of Yosemite and I always like the feel of distance and height (although I also love macro.) Have a lovely week.


    • Janet, thanks for the glass of bubbly. Mostly, I am touched by your thoughtful words, and by your constancy as a participant. We certainly do learn from each other. Enjoy the glorious spring unfolding.

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